Libel in brief

Judge dismisses former St.Cloud dean’s libel suit

MINNESOTA — A former dean who sued a university studentnewspaper after it published comments that implicated him as being anti-Semiticand a racist is deciding whether he will appeal a court’s Octoberdismissal of his case.The court opinion said that although the publishedcomments were admittedly wrong, Richard D. Lewis, former dean of St. Cloud StateUniversity’s College of Social Sciences, is a public figure and could notprove actual malice, a libel standard for public figures.In the fall of2003, following the settlement of a discrimination lawsuit involving Jewishfaculty members, the university reassigned Lewis from his position as dean. Thenewspaper’s article chronicling his troubles was published Oct. 27, 2003,and Lewis sued the university, claiming defamation. The article contained aninterview with Robbi Hoy, a former student involved in a previous dispute withLewis, who said she overheard Lewis making racial and derogatory comments.After publication, Hoy told the Chronicle reporter that theremarks she heard came from another professor, not Lewis. The newspaperpublished a retraction in November 2003, but Lewis continued the libel lawsuit. In March 2005, a state appeals court dismissed Lewis’ claimagainst the school. Lewis refiled his lawsuit against the newspaper itself inSeptember. Lewis had until the end of December to decide to appeal. Nodecision had been made as of press time. Case: Lewis v.University Chronicle, No. CX-05-5539 (Minn. Dist. Ct. Stearns Co. Oct. 24,2006).